Samsung likes to say its "Touch of Color" design scheme elevates products to become a "work of art," but really it comes down to three main principles: rounded corners, translucent red highlights, and a glossy black finish. The Samsung BD-P4600 is the epitome of that design philosophy. It looks like no other Blu-ray player we've tested--reminding us of nothing so much as a thin plate balanced on a stand. The BD-P4600 has a feature set that bests most of its competitors, including Netflix and Pandora streaming, Wi-Fi compatibility with an included USB dongle, and 1GB of onboard memory. In all, we had very few complaints with the BD-P4600's functionality, but its $500 list price will probably scare of most consumers, especially when the step-down Samsung BD-P3600 ($400 list price) offers all the same functionality, albeit in a more conventional design. The BD-P4600 is an excellent Blu-ray player if you have no qualms about paying an extra $100 for its peculiar look or wall-mount capability, but most buyers will be perfectly satisfied with the cheaper BD-P3600.
Since the step-down BD-P3600 has all the same features and performance, the only reason to buy the BD-P4600 is its unusual design. Looking like a rectangular UFO, the BD-P4600 is relatively flat (1.6 inches thick) with round corners and a red, translucent finish. Perched on the included stand, it sits on an angle sloping downward, which exposes its touch-sensitive buttons.
When the BD-P4600 is unplugged, it appears to have a completely buttonless, smooth design, but when you turn it on, the buttons light up seemingly from nowhere, along with a red LCD display right in the middle of the unit.
Beneath a plastic cover is the BD-P4600's input/output bay, with the ports angled into the unit. Snaking cables into the compartment is a tight squeeze, and if you've got a thick HDMI cable (like the premium Monoprice cables we have in the lab) you may find that it just won't fit. The BD-P4600's connectivity is bare-bones. The main connection is the HDMI output, which is capable of handling 1080p HD video and high-resolution multichannel audio. There's no component-video output, with only a standard composite video available for analog video. For audio, you can use the aforementioned HDMI output, but there's also an optical digital-audio output and a stereo analog output.
There's also a USB port in this compartment, which is skillfully designed so you can plug into the included USB Wi-Fi adapter and still have it concealed by the plastic cover. The only problem is that we couldn't get any Wi-Fi reception with the dongle on the inside port, so instead we had to use the second port on the side, which caused the dongle to hang awkwardly off the side of the unit.
The power port is also found in the compartment, which leads to the external power supply--another reason why the main unit is able to be so slim. There's an opening at the back, so you can snake the cables out in an orderly fashion.
The BD-P4600 includes hardware for wall mounting, and to us, that's the application where its slim design makes most sense. Of course the BD-P4600 requires at least two wires (HDMI and power), so you'll need to hide those wires in the wall. Otherwise the slickness of your setup will be marred by a couple of dangling cables.
The included remote is a substantial redesign over previous players, but in some ways it's a step back. Most of the buttons are logically positioned, but important buttons--like Popup Menu, Disc Menu, and Title Menu--are stuck at the bottom of the remote. We also would have liked to see easy-access buttons for Netflix and Pandora, but that's more of a nitpick.